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Excellent piece! Could not agree more!

And yes, I too have had maddening experiences with those so-called skeptics.

Thanks Matt!

"I don’t mean for readings but in the form of a process, product, or service that consistently works and that people want."

Interesting post and suggestion, Matt. But if you think about it, psi is being used to make money as we speak: by doctors, therapists, artists, authors, businessmen—not to mention mediums. All insist that psychic ability, in one form or another, is essential to their work. (Of course, as with laboratory experiments, the facts surrounding their successes can always be debated by those who wish to do so.)

Now you're probably thinking of another kind of money-making: a splashier, greedier, less service-oriented kind. But maybe psi doesn't work that way. Since psi and spirituality are so tightly connected, maybe psi is available largely to those who use it well.

In any case, I think it possible that there will *always* be those who find psi unbelievable. Why? To a great extent, that's what the earth adventure is about. We come here in forgetfulness, in denial of our spiritual abilities, because only by so doing can we experience the thrill of re-discovering them.

Totally disagreeing with Bruce here. I don't think we are "meant" to forget psi or anything else for that matter. It just happens.

Why?

Because "psi", like any kind of perception depends on focus of energy and intent. When we are dazzled by the shiny things of the material world and biological urges, then that is where our focus is and where our energies get used up. Note that people working on becoming true spiritual adepts often fast, go celibate, live in a quiet cave away from human society or a monastery. This frees the energy and focus to move to other channels naturally available to all of us in our being.

Getting back to Matt's very nice post, I think the laboratory and the stiff protocols of "science" are absolutely antithetical to the kind of mindset necessary to produce strong psi effects.

I can imagine how to create an environment far more conducive, but it would be prohibitive by research standards because it would probably involve crossing the lines of human experimental ethics. It would be difficult to find volunteer subjects too. I am thinking about a cohort of subjects that did fast for a prolonged period of time, remained celibate, stayed in isolation for a long time.

Also, the experimenters do not seem to recognize the fundamental mechanisms that trigger psi - focus and energy - so they don't see the importance of designing around these things.

That or they excuse taking the easier approach by stating that they want to see how psi "normally" operates in normal subjects.

So the researchers themselves, even those that are favorable - or at least open minded - to psi are their own worst enemies, IMO.

Eric said:

"When we are dazzled by the shiny things of the material world and biological urges, then that is where our focus is and where our energies get used up."

I agree. But we *choose* to experience such a bedazzlement. We *choose*, temporarily, to be distacted by the small stuff.

"I don't think we are "meant" to forget psi or anything else for that matter. It just happens."

Those "true spiritual adepts" you just described? Point me towards one who thinks the earthly diminishment of our spiritual abilities "just happens."

I should have said:

I agree. But we *choose* to experience such a bedazzlement. We *choose* to enter an environment in which we will temporarily be distracted by the small stuff. Because it heightens our understanding of, and appreciation for, what really matters.

I agree with you, but someone skeptical might not deny each anecdotal case about psi but consider that they are not sufficient evidence because they have not been proven that they are not the product of habitual suspects, like sensory filtration, selective memory, misinterpretations, etc.

Matt;
You wrote a very thought provoking article; it’s a lot to digest. Obviously you spent a lot of time on it. The words ‘psi’ and ‘materialism’ are such broad terms encompassing many different concepts not all of which are clearly defined by the people who discuss them that arguments about them tend to become too general, too philosophical and too opinionated for my tastes. As you suggest, the really good evidence for ‘psi’ phenomena is provided by gifted individuals; it’s provided by the outlier. So I guess that how that person compares with the rest of the population provides an important statistic proving the so-called “white crow” but maybe nothing else. Not everyone is a child prodigy but occasionally one comes along that piques our curiosity prompting us to seek an explanation for their exceptional talent whether it is playing the piano or communicating with the deceased.

I have always had a difficult time with statistics but I think that I agree with Mark Twain who said that “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Apparently he misattributed this thought to Disraeli but it is somewhat unclear who really said it first. Since statistics can be relatively easily manipulated as you pointed out---and I agree, I have never pinned any of my spiritual or parapsychological beliefs on statistics alone.

I have no problem with people making money for the work they do and those who are gifted in some way I believe are perfectly entitled to charge for the services they provide whether it is a ‘psi’ reading or a piano concert. Full time mediums have to make a living just like the rest of us and certainly, people like Leslie Flint, George Anderson, John Edward et al need to make a good living to be able to continue to use their talents for the benefit of others. Whether or not they charge for their services does not necessarily validate or invalidate what they do.

You say that you are “100% certain that psi is real and materialism is completely disproved and an obsolete worldview.” Well, I don’t think I could go that far yet and actually I really don’t know what it means to say that “materialism is completely disproved” since materialism could be defined to include many things. For me, I don’t know why psi has to be proved and materialism disproved. It may be a stupid thing to ask, but is there a serious conflict between the two? Why can’t they both have a place in our experience at the same time? - AOD

As one of the authors of a meta-analysis of Bem type studies - implicit precognition, I found this guest post quite enjoyable and well written.

I think an escape route for psi research involves parapsychology becoming an exemplar in psychological research. Such an approach is becoming widespread - witness the preregistration of studies at the Koestler website, or the large-scale multi lab (preregistered) replications of Bem (amoung other experimental paradigms)that are underway, or have been completed. My strong impression from close connections with those in the field, is an ever closer grubbing acceptance of psi research as a bona fide scientific discipline, even if the interpretation of the data is hotly contested...... an even this is changing. I'm very optimistic about the future!

Smithy,

Thank you! Yes, and Skeptics are always spoiling for a fight--so long as there are other Skeptics nearby to back them up. 10-to-1 or higher is their preferred ratio.

Bruce wrote,

||But if you think about it, psi is being used to make money as we speak: by doctors, therapists, artists, authors, businessmen—not to mention mediums.||

Absolutely. I think psi is a big part of the human mind on various levels--like the fish in water, it's so close we can doubt its existence. (E.g., my guess is that "accident-prone" people are deficient in the kind of micro-precognition that helps keep us alive. I dated one such person, and she had a very anti-psi quality about her; my psi abilities always felt quite weak in her presence. Still a great person, however!)

||Now you're probably thinking of another kind of money-making: a splashier, greedier, less service-oriented kind. But maybe psi doesn't work that way. Since psi and spirituality are so tightly connected, maybe psi is available largely to those who use it well.||

I think this is clearly *not* the case. Some evil people use psi very well. I have also found that people with depression have a psychically enhanced ability to press people's buttons, and people with Borderline Personality Disorder have some amazing abilities as well they use to draw in and control people.

||In any case, I think it possible that there will *always* be those who find psi unbelievable. Why? To a great extent, that's what the earth adventure is about. We come here in forgetfulness, in denial of our spiritual abilities, because only by so doing can we experience the thrill of re-discovering them.||

I have to disagree here, since it was once common knowledge that psi, magic, etc. are real. Someone from, say, the 14th century would find our current level of unbelief and doubt absolutely insane. (Now, they would ascribe psi to different sources, perhaps say that religious people had "the gift of prophesy," etc., but very few people in society would have doubted those abilities exist.)

Bruce,

I guess I didn't respond completely. What I am thinking of is something psi-based that is recognized as real by elites of one type or another. For example, if the major militaries are all using remote viewings (I don't know if this is true or not) and it becomes recognized that this is perhaps not 100% accurate but still worth doing, then I think that could count. Or if something like Schwartz's Spirit Phone is in common use. Something like that.

Eric wrote,

||Getting back to Matt's very nice post, I think the laboratory and the stiff protocols of "science" are absolutely antithetical to the kind of mindset necessary to produce strong psi effects.||

Thank you! Lab research of average individuals *has* succeeded, however. We should not discount or ignore this fact.

Further, exceptional individuals have been tested in the lab or under very strict conditions and have succeeded spectacularly. We've talked about such research into mediums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Uri Geller was also tested in the lab, and he produced some quite extraordinary effects. (No, I don't think he's a fake; not a total one, at least.) E.g.:

Professor Victor Weisskopf physicist who studied under Niels Bohrr worked on the A bomb and over saw the development of European atom smashers.
“I was shocked and amazed how Mr Geller bent my office key at MIT while I was holding it. The sturdy key kept bending in my hand; I can not explain this phenomenon I can only assume that it could relate could relate to quantum chromo dynamics”.

http://www.urigeller.com/scientific-paranormal/what-scientists-say-about-uri-geller/

Juan wrote,

||I agree with you, but someone skeptical might not deny each anecdotal case about psi but consider that they are not sufficient evidence because they have not been proven that they are not the product of habitual suspects, like sensory filtration, selective memory, misinterpretations, etc.||

Isn't that their standard operating procedure, though? The Skeptics' first wave of attack is to say there is *no evidence* of the paranormal. This is of course a lie by any reasonable standard (the lab evidence is certainly evidence, even if it can be disproved through complicated reasoning about statistics). The Skeptics really do deny each case.

AOD wrote,

The words ‘psi’ and ‘materialism’ are such broad terms encompassing many different concepts not all of which are clearly defined by the people who discuss them that arguments about them tend to become too general, too philosophical and too opinionated for my tastes.

Psi is typically defined as comprising ESP and PK: the acquiring by the mind of information not via the regular senses and the manipulation of matter/events without normal physical intervention. I think there could very well be other paranormal abilities of a personal nature too: your example of the child prodigy being one (a person might exemplify an almost paranormal ability to play music without it being psi per se). But I think the definition is workable.

Materialism. I mean what modern Western atheists believe, and they hew pretty close to a single party line. There is only matter and energy--that's it. Psi and any other paranormal phenomena are impossible and any examples of same from history didn't happen and are due to lies or mistakes.

||Full time mediums have to make a living just like the rest of us and certainly, people like Leslie Flint, George Anderson, John Edward et al need to make a good living to be able to continue to use their talents for the benefit of others. Whether or not they charge for their services does not necessarily validate or invalidate what they do.||

I did not mean to imply this is the case; I merely meant to show that that this isn't *always* the case or even normally, since Skeptics tend to portray all self-described psychics as greedy frauds.

||You say that you are “100% certain that psi is real and materialism is completely disproved and an obsolete worldview.” Well, I don’t think I could go that far yet and actually I really don’t know what it means to say that “materialism is completely disproved” since materialism could be defined to include many things.||

Well, you mentioned white crows. So many white crows have now been found; or rather, so many live and breathe and thrive among us now in plain sight that those who deny their existence are being willfully obtuse, perverse, or both. Atheists who deny the existence of paranormal phenomena are wrong.

||For me, I don’t know why psi has to be proved and materialism disproved. It may be a stupid thing to ask, but is there a serious conflict between the two? Why can’t they both have a place in our experience at the same time?||

Sure, the two are incompatible, since materialism denies the existence of psi. And why would we want materialism to have a place in our experience? It is a false belief system. Should Flat Eartherism or 9/11 Trutherism have a place in our experience?

Michael Duggan wrote,

||As one of the authors of a meta-analysis of Bem type studies - implicit precognition, I found this guest post quite enjoyable and well written.||

Thanks! Coming from you, that means a lot. (Not that coming from others it doesn't, but I wanted to get the statistics part right.)

||My strong impression from close connections with those in the field, is an ever closer grubbing acceptance of psi research as a bona fide scientific discipline, even if the interpretation of the data is hotly contested...... an even this is changing. I'm very optimistic about the future!||

That's good. Apparently trying to shame researchers out of the business hasn't worked!

Scientists are experimenting with non local communication at the moment, in terms of using entangled pairs of photons to modulate a property of photon A that can be picked up on photon B, over any distance. This type of science will highlight what mother nature can do ... the trick here is to bring consciousness into the picture to understand and explain how we also participate in that interconnected world. The field of quantum biology may hold such answers.

Skeptics won't accept PSI rather than someone finds a "psi-boson" or another physical evidence!

Bruce,

By the way, here's a video I think you'll like!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2otg8qhZryw

I think that there is another issue here: this whole question rests on the desire or obligation to inform or bring others over to your side. Personally, I don't think this is important.

I would have some very minor minor things to say about Michael's analysis of summerland in the post beneath this, but it's not my business to try to prematurely yank him around to a position he can't currently take with the information he has, a position that he may take if the subject interests him sufficiently to keep reading, when I have no personal information on him and his mindset. His education is his problem and his obligation to himself to fulfill or not. I am not even sure that it matters a bit whether he understands more or not, but if he is, he will get there eventually, on his own. And there is no rush for that.

The same regarding psi: it's all out there; all the data one needs is currently in circulation, and it doesn't matter if all research were to stop today. One looks at information and forms a conclusion based on his current state of knowledge and also his state of resistance. It is not my/our job to do more than allow the data and information to exist; it's certainly not our job to wrestle the intentionally ignorant to the ground. The people who witness or perform the experiments do a good thing, but once the data is presented, you can lead a mind to data, but you can't make it think.

I think that those of us who are genuinely interested in this stuff have the main obligation to scratch the itch to self inform; that is all, and then possibly to share it on an individual basis with receptive minds. When pseudoskeptics are receptive, not before, they will receive what they need, and I am absolutely sure that what they need to know will fall in front of them for consideration at that time, so what's our rush to jam our opinions down their throats? Really.

One last thought that is not my position, but I'll bring it up: in the past, esoteric knowledge was kept secret, presented only to those who were qualified and prepared to receive it, because they were the ones who were fertile receptacles. They placed a lot of importance on exposing information in an appropriate order in context so that it might be efficiently transmitted and understood. This shouldn't be too hard to understand, since that's the exact pattern the formal education of children runs in, because it's an effective method with the best results. I believe those people might have looked on the question in this piece as a huge waste and misdirection of time and energy. I don't think that is quite the correct position, but I do think there is an optimally-functional intermediate position between complete secrecy and public battles with skeptics over p values.

I intend no discredit to people like Matt who attempt to enlighten as their daily work; I'm only asking about the wisdom of trying to jam enlightenment down others' throats.

"Isn't that their standard operating procedure, though?"

But how would you respond to skeptics who claim that it has not been proven that anecdotal cases are not due to the usual suspects?

I would also like to mention that most scientists will not accept the existence of psychic phenomena until they have a theory about how psychic phenomena are possible and what is their relationship with the rest of the scientific fields.

"There is only matter and energy--that's it. Psi and any other paranormal phenomena are impossible and any examples of same from history didn't happen and are due to lies or mistakes."

But is there no necessary relationship between "there is only energy / matter" and "there is no psi"? No one can know what potentiality has energy / matter.

Michael Darnton wrote,

||this whole question rests on the desire or obligation to inform or bring others over to your side. Personally, I don't think this is important.||

I read a blog post awhile back that I failed to bookmark, but it was by Peter Thiel or about him. And it expressed the opinion that we are living in an odd time in which we view opinion with respect to the nature of reality as ossified, and we don't really expect progress to be made. Sure, we may wrangle about politics, but we don't have anything such as atomic theory or the the germ theory of disease, both of which received their final confirmation in the 19th century. I.e., two big ideas that got the thumbs up, while the opposing viewpoints got the thumbs down. Evolution won soon thereafter in the 20th. We just don't think anything like that is going to happen.

I think psi is the next big thing demanding acceptance. Not for political or religious reasons but because it is scientifically the truth. Sure, we barely understand anything about it, but such was the case with atomic theory in the 19th century. Atomic weights were known and the periodic table developed before the proton and electron were even proved to exist. The scientific establishment is balking because it would have to say, "Oh ****, there's this mountain of work ahead of us that dwarfs the work we've required thus far to understand physics or chemistry, and we're going to have to completely revamp our worldviews." How much easier to keep things small.

So I think it *is* important. It's not about proselytizing or converting. It's about accepting the reality of what has already been demonstrated to exist and accepting the tremendous scientific burden of figuring out what it's all about.

Things like this blog keep intelligent people engaged and informed so that this can happen in time. It might be within in the next 10 years. It might take 100 more years.

The other big thing on the horizon is recognizing that UFO phenomena exist. I don't think there are nuts and bolts craft visiting Earth; well, none whose operators are looking to be seen *just enough* but hesitate to make the proverbial landing on the White House lawn. But it's another in-your-face phenomenon that Science! just doesn't want to deal with. (Personally, I think it's an effect of collective consciousness, much as how the Romans used to see statues speak and other omens based on their mythology.)

||I would have some very minor minor things to say about Michael's analysis of summerland in the post beneath this, but it's not my business to try to prematurely yank him around to a position he can't currently take with the information he has, a position that he may take if the subject interests him sufficiently to keep reading, when I have no personal information on him and his mindset.||

The comments on this blog are, thanks to Michael's excellent posts and the tone he has set over the long term, a salon for sharing information and engaging in debate. I for one would be interested in your perspective, and I'm sure others would as well.

||His education is his problem and his obligation to himself to fulfill or not. I am not even sure that it matters a bit whether he understands more or not, but if he is, he will get there eventually, on his own. And there is no rush for that.||

That seems an odd thing to say about Michael, who voraciously pursues all the information he can find in this area. If you have something to add that is truly new and interesting, my strong suspicion is that he will welcome it. And even if it's not, in his opinion, he will be polite about it.

||it's certainly not our job to wrestle the intentionally ignorant to the ground. The people who witness or perform the experiments do a good thing, but once the data is presented, you can lead a mind to data, but you can't make it think.||

This is true. I don't argue with Skeptics any more; been there, done that. I think the goal is to apply a bit of force in the Marketplace of Ideas and influence fence-sitters and people who are new to the topic. They, in turn, may eventually overturn the negative consensus about psi among people of influence (i.e., the elite).

||in the past, esoteric knowledge was kept secret, presented only to those who were qualified and prepared to receive it [...] I believe those people might have looked on the question in this piece as a huge waste and misdirection of time and energy.||

Different thing, I think. I am not trying to pass on the secrets of the Shaolin Temple or Mithra to those ready for them in the hopes of carrying on such a system or religion for *its own sake*. I am simply putting though and energy out there with the hope of moving the world a micrometer or two in the direction of truth.

||I intend no discredit to people like Matt who attempt to enlighten as their daily work; I'm only asking about the wisdom of trying to jam enlightenment down others' throats.||

I agree that that isn't a good idea, and it is more or less impossible anyway.

Claudio wrote,

||Skeptics won't accept PSI rather than someone finds a "psi-boson" or another physical evidence!||

Haha, perhaps. I'm inclined to think that there is no mediating particle for psi, or any medium at all other than pure information.

Skeptics will never accept it even as many of them accept something even Sam Harris has noted as nonsensical - that matter which lacks consciousness can produce consciousness. A something-from-nothing "miracle" that shows materialism is a fundamentalist faith.

My suggestion to anyone who wanted to promote Psi is to target the public not the skeptics. Many people, even atheists/agnostics, accept Psi - and even greater supernatural claims - on some level. Tarot, synchronicity, astrology have all made their way into the public mindset. Beyond the Western World it's even more accepted to believe in the magical/paranormal.

Motivate people to keep dream journals, to practice lucid dreaming, and then see if they can have precognitive or clairvoyant dreams. I was talking to a buddy in a bar who mentioned a precognitive dream he had, I've talked to a Native American woman who calmly told me about spirits, people have mentioned ghost sightings to me...and so on.

As such I think it's about getting the culture to be more accepting of personal paranormal experience - both sharing experiences already had and seeking out of new ones.

SPatel wrote,

||As such I think it's about getting the culture to be more accepting of personal paranormal experience - both sharing experiences already had and seeking out of new ones.||

Right. And I think the Internet has helped people connect the dots: "I'm not crazy, and what I experienced was real, since so many other people have experienced the same thing."

I also agree with your other comments!

Juan,
Right! There is energy and then there is energy; all is energy. That's why I think that 'materialism' and 'psi' can, and in fact do exist at the same time. It's just a matter of vibration. - AOD

Matt and all,
I think that one of the most telling, yet most repressed, examples of proven psi is the Stargate program by the US govt (though aspects of the program, and the program itself, went under other names at various times). There were indeed white crows of great value produced during the early experimental phases and the operational phases.

Now skeptical mythology has it that skeptical superman Hyman, reviewed the program and deemed it to not reliably produce actionable intelligence and that, as a result, the govt decided to stop wasting money such silliness and the program was killed.

A few problems here;

First, we have a skeptic slight of hand (or of tongue) happening here. Not "reliably" producing actionable intelligence is not the same as never producing it. Nor is it the same as saying it never produced intelligence not obtainable by normal means, far beyond chance; so far beyond chance that the psi hypothesis MUST be accepted. Stargate actually did all of that and it is well documented.

Second; Hyman did not have access to classified field work done with the operationalized program. He only had access to some of the test and development phase lab work. So he would not really know what kind of intelligence results were produced in actual operations

Third; Hyman's report didn't kill the program. After his report the program transitioned from the Defense Intelligence Agency to the CIA (in 1995).

Fourth; At the time of Hyman's report, the DIA was moving further away from *all* HUMINT methods and relying more on technology. So Stargate was just another of the HUMINT programs that were eliminated under the new paradigm.

Fifth; the CIA adopted the program because it worked to give field operatives an edge. Whether or not it could be called upon to operate perfectly on demand, having enhanced psi ability was and is seen as an edge that is worth developing in people that can benefit from it.

In other words, Skeptics lie and their protocols are not really applicable to the real world.

Most military intelligence methods, most social science methods, most business methods never result in he kind of P values, reliability, etc that you find in, say, the field of physics. Models are built on human and, therefore, highly variable and complex data. Models are refined to be as precise predictors as possible, but it is accepted that they will not be totally correct. Business moves forward though because, if waiting for perfection and replicated Ps of .000000001, the organization would be paralyzed. Rather, methods and models that give an edge are accepted and used as long they produce an edge either on their own or in synergy with other methodologies.

Another reason that I think the statistical evidence and arguments are somewhat misguided.

Matt said:

"Some evil people use psi very well."

Good point, Matt. That's why I said: "maybe psi is available largely to those who use it well."

Notice the "largely." In writing that, I too was thinking about those who use psi for darker purposes. Whether these powers are more easily accessed by those who use them lovingly is, perhaps, hard to gauge. I'll have to think about that.

"I have to disagree here, since it was once common knowledge that psi, magic, etc. are real. Someone from, say, the 14th century would find our current level of unbelief and doubt absolutely insane."

Another good point. You're right that psi was more universally accepted in other periods. It would be interesting to know to what degree our ancestors—going back not just hundreds of years, but hundreds of thousands—accepted these things.

It's likely that our society, with its reliance on mainstream science, is one of the blindest imaginable in this regard.

Still, I stand by the basic truth of what I said:

"We come here in forgetfulness, in denial of our spiritual abilities, because only by so doing can we experience the thrill of re-discovering them."

Even those of us who are steeped in psi—maybe even practice it professionally in one way or another—live largely in ignorance of the *full* range of our spiritual abilities and qualities. I think we'll *all* be surprised, on leaving the body, at the full extent of we can do, feel, perceive, and know. (Surprised by this truth, yet strangely familiar with it.)

In that sense, we're all disbelievers.

Juan wrote,

"Isn't that their standard operating procedure, though?"

||But how would you respond to skeptics who claim that it has not been proven that anecdotal cases are not due to the usual suspects?||

I wouldn't respond to them. There are now thousands of well-documented cases of exceptional psi, as well as the individual experiences of millions of people that all dovetail very nicely. If they are in denial about them, then they are. It's not my problem.

||I would also like to mention that most scientists will not accept the existence of psychic phenomena until they have a theory about how psychic phenomena are possible and what is their relationship with the rest of the scientific fields.||

That is like saying that a biologist will not accept the existence of the symptoms of a disease without being able to explain the cause of the disease. It's not supposed to work that way in science. That's why Skeptics deny the phenomena in the first place: so that they don't have to explain them in terms of their worldview, because they can't.

||But is there no necessary relationship between "there is only energy / matter" and "there is no psi"? No one can know what potentiality has energy / matter.||

I'm not sure why we keep coming back to this point about materialism. Psi is incompatible with the worldview of Skeptics and other Western atheists because they *choose to make it so.* If you would like to advance a form of "materialism" that is compatible with psi, I would be quite interested to hear what that is, but it's not going to be the current form of atheism/materialism/reductionism that Skeptics espouse. This is a matter of semantics and branding and not actually a matter of philosophical disagreement. Not until I hear your actual position.

Yes, a very good piece.

I think the individual and extraordinary cases are most convincing, the night my sister and I, who had not seen each other or talked in weeks had, essentially, the same dream about a wolf in the front yard of the house we grew up in, on the same night (neither of us had seen anything about wolves on TV or anything like that - I don't watch TV) and in each of our dreams we both said to someone, "Don't hurt it". Compared to that, the lab studies are merely confirmation. There have been other such incidents.

The "skeptics", who cares if they don't believe it? Most people do.

The problem with Steven Novella is that he thinks one single failed replications proves that Psi isn't real. When it's obvious from the get go that he obviously thinks Psi cannot possibly exist because it conflicts with his materialist position.

You often here the statement offered by materialist's that if Psi was real then they should be able to use their ESP powers for example to win the lottery. However, that is not how Psi works.

Leo MacDonald wrote,

||You often here the statement offered by materialist's that if Psi was real then they should be able to use their ESP powers for example to win the lottery. However, that is not how Psi works.||

Yet, it *can* work that way:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2010/11/striking-it-rich.html

(Have I been following this blog since at least 2010? Wow.)

I agree with your other comments, Leo!

"People can quote statistics to prove anything! Forfty percent of people know that" - Homer Simpson

Yes Bruce,

“The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting.
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:” - Wordsworth

As somebody who had what's called here the "materialist" or "atheist" point of view and never found it incompatible with a belief that I always had pretty good intuition, and more recently has acquired much better trained intuition that here would probably be called "psi"...

Please stop having a go at skeptics!

What they are doing is exactly the right thing, as far as I'm concerned. Playing Devil's Advocate is a fundamental part of science, and it shouldn't be weakened in any way.

Those of you saying that we don't know much about psi faculties, let me explain this to you: we do know an awful lot about them. Please go search for magical blogs until you convince yourself of (1) These people are communicating about something, even if you can't make sense at all about their technical language and (2) They're obviously pretty sophisticated about it. It just happens that magic is extraordinarily difficult to communicate to non-magicians. So, long time ago, magicians decided it was a complete waste of time trying to explain it to everybody else. Instead, they've done the sensible thing under the circumstances. They've written plenty of introductory material so that people with latent abilities can progress and discover more by themselves. And once their abilities have progressed enough, locating and contacting other people at a similar level is fairly straightforward.

It seems to me that some magicians are now trying to do a little scientific experimentation to establish the average level of latent ability of the general population, and they are peeved that it's extraordinarily difficult to do their research and publish their results. That is, at the end of the day, a very limited concern of theirs. I don't believe it justifies changing the political decision, which was made about three centuries ago, to shift the general public consensus that was then "magic is real" to the a new public consensus that "magic is a hoax". The new public consensus is more accurate as a rule of thumb when you encounter strange situations. It's absolutely true that most so-called "paranormal phenomena" are actually coincidences, simple intuition of the sort that you can find explained in psychology books, or hoaxes. The reality of the matter is damn near impossible to explain successfully to non-magicians, so I don't see that attempting to convince the general public again that "magic is real" will be in any way an improvement over the current situation.

"I always had pretty good intuition, and more recently [have] acquired much better trained intuition that here would probably be called 'psi'"

It would not be called psi. Please read the relevant entries in this blog (use the archival search feature on the left side of the page) before assuming anything about our standards of evidence.

"What they are doing is exactly the right thing, as far as I'm concerned. Playing Devil's Advocate is a fundamental part of science, and it shouldn't be weakened in any way."

Playing devil's advocate is fine, and we do it here. Desperate and dishonest post-hoc hand waving, however, is just not kosher.

"Those of you saying that we don't know much about psi faculties, let me explain this to you: we do know an awful lot about them."

A) It would be better to drop the condescending tone. B) Most of those who comment here are well aware of the explanations offered by magicians. We are, ahem, skeptical of some of these explanations.

Few mentalists and magicians have agreed to be tested under controlled conditions to match the conditions imposed by researchers like Gary Schwartz, Julie Beschel, and Archie Roy and Patricia Robinson, or researchers from an earlier era like Richard Hodgson and Charles Drayton Thomas. Some magicians have been dishonest in their attacks on psi; see Will Storr's book "Heretics" for a thorough takedown of James Randi, including an interview in which Randi is forced to concede that he has lied to further his agenda.

This is not to say that magicians can't help expose fake psychics. They obviously can. But their broad assertions about all paranormal phenomena are no more authoritative than anyone else's, and skeptics are no more immune to bias and error than anyone else.

Maria Rigel said,” It's absolutely true that most so-called "paranormal phenomena" are actually coincidences, simple intuition of the sort that you can find explained in psychology books, or hoaxes.”

To respond to your statement concerning absolute truth Maria, one would have to start at the beginning of a 200-year plus history of “paranormal phenomena”. Few if any on this blog are going to want to make the effort to do that for a novice. I might suggest that you do your homework and then after a 10 or 15 years study of the evidence for “paranormal phenomena” come back and let’s discuss what you think. - AOD

Thanks, Matt, for the video, and AOD for the poem. They're good!

Excellent essay. My thanks to the SPR for posting a link to it on their Facebook page.

Matt, I have found that the farther we are out on the frontier of thought, the fewer there are of us. In the same sense, I have found that a skeptic tends to be a person who is not as far out on the frontier.

As an example psi research is seen as pseudoscience by many mainstream people, while the study of survival-related phenomena is seen by many psi researchers as pseudoscience ... seldom in so many words, but as good as.

In your essay, you tended to speak of individual's psi functioning in the general sense without distinguishing it very much from mediumship. From my experience as a practicing medium (spiritualist meetings only) and one who studies Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), you have it about right. As a Spiritualist, I know it is time for use to revisit the distinction between psi and mediumship.

James Carpenter gives us the foundation of a workable model with his First Sight Theory. The model seems to suggest there is a distinction between psi functioning and mediumship without a difference.

My point is that skepticism appears to be a human condition, not so much rejection based on objective understanding, but rejection based on how far from the center of societal thought one stands. The farther out, the fewer proponents and the greater number of skeptics.

"There are now thousands of well-documented cases of exceptional psi, as well as the individual experiences of millions of people that all dovetail very nicely. If they are in denial about them, then they are. It's not my problem."

However it is your problem: to argue that some of those cases are not due to the habitual suspects.

"That is like saying that a biologist will not accept the existence of the symptoms of a disease without being able to explain the cause of the disease. It's not supposed to work that way in science."

Well, I do not know how scientists should act, but it is a fact that they are reluctant to accept a phenomenon if they do not have a theoretical framework for that.

"I'm not sure why we keep coming back to this point about materialism."

You have started it; If materialism is "materialism and there is no psi," then it is a truism that materialism becomes obsolete by manifesting the existence of psi.

"However it is your problem: to argue that some of those cases are not due to the habitual suspects..

It's only his problem if he's interested in convincing somebody who takes that position. If he doesn't care about convincing the doubters, then ... it's not his problem.

Maria Rigel wrote,

||What they are doing is exactly the right thing, as far as I'm concerned. Playing Devil's Advocate is a fundamental part of science, and it shouldn't be weakened in any way.||

What Michael said. Also, the biggest beef I have with Skeptics is that they deny phenomena that clearly are taking place. If you deny phenomena, then science stops.

Hi Matt,

Yes I remember that particular post. Though it's never been shown that Psi was involved in those big lottery wins. So it's questionable. They could of just been using the same numbers over and over again. Until they eventually hit the jackpot. Of course, this is exceedingly rare, knowing that these winners have won more than once.

Tom Butler,

||Excellent essay. My thanks to the SPR for posting a link to it on their Facebook page.||

Than you! And the really good news is that you've found a superb blog. Michael puts up outstanding posts all the time.

||Matt, I have found that the farther we are out on the frontier of thought, the fewer there are of us. In the same sense, I have found that a skeptic tends to be a person who is not as far out on the frontier.||

I think this is definitely true. There is a certain base level of doubt that people in the aggregate aim at anything new, including both new science and new culture.

||As an example psi research is seen as pseudoscience by many mainstream people, while the study of survival-related phenomena is seen by many psi researchers as pseudoscience ... seldom in so many words, but as good as.||

I have seen hints of this, in which parapsychology researchers seem to say, "Shhh, don't shame us with talk of the Afterlife--we're trying to be taken seriously here!"

||James Carpenter gives us the foundation of a workable model with his First Sight Theory. The model seems to suggest there is a distinction between psi functioning and mediumship without a difference.||

Interesting. Could you summarize his view? I've thought about this issue. In fact, I was talking to my psychic friend about it the other day, and he said, "All mediums are psychics, but not all psychics are mediums." This seems true to me: I think it would be hard to find a medium who was not psychic in any other way. But it would not be hard to find a psychic who did not also serve as a medium. I first discovered my psi abilities at age 14, though I took a break from nurturing them from about age 23 to 30. But I did not serve as a medium until age 35, when a spirit really, *really* wanted to get through to someone.

||My point is that skepticism appears to be a human condition, not so much rejection based on objective understanding, but rejection based on how far from the center of societal thought one stands. The farther out, the fewer proponents and the greater number of skeptics.||

I think this true, but I think another factor is that Skeptics tend to be on the high end of intelligence but on the very low end of psychic ability. They probably would not be Skeptics if they had experienced any paranormal ability for themselves. I think they also tend to have a dogmatic way of viewing things, and it has been noted that they often come from a religious background and end up trading one dogma for another. Not that any of this contradicts what you have aptly said, but it may be possible to create a psychological profile that encapsulates the thinking of a large percentage of Skeptics.

Juan wrote,

||However it is your problem: to argue that some of those cases are not due to the habitual suspects.||

What do *you* think about "usual suspects"? I don't buy into that line of thought.

I have a different model than the Skeptics do in the first place. Based on what they say, I think Skeptics think this: Psi doesn't exist at all, but from time to time some big coincidence will occur, or a person will have a hallucination, and he or she will attribute that to psi. People who call themselves psychics are either crazy, fraudulent, or both, so their thoughts on the matter don't count. There you go, psi fully explained.

In my experience, however, psi is everywhere and a part of everyday life. The line between psi and ordinary cognition doesn't exist, for the most part. Sure, I can try to tune in and be *more* psychic, but when I'm doing a reading for someone, it's a mix of psychic impressions, using background knowledge (both general and specific to the sitter), making logical deductions based on both the impressions and background knowledge, and using my ability to listen and advise. Among other things. Sometimes it's a lot of psi, and sometimes it's a lot of using common sense.

So, h/t to Wolfgang Pauli, the Skeptics are "not even wrong" about how psi works or doesn't work. The framework they are using to assess the situation does not take into consideration how people actually experience psi.

||Well, I do not know how scientists should act, but it is a fact that they are reluctant to accept a phenomenon if they do not have a theoretical framework for that.||

Right, that's how scientists shouldn't act--by their own openly stated principles (scientific method, etc.).

||You have started it; If materialism is "materialism and there is no psi," then it is a truism that materialism becomes obsolete by manifesting the existence of psi.||

I don't think this is some sort of rancorous argument, far from it, but I do believe you "started it" by saying that materialism is compatible with psi. Now, your particular approach to materialism may be compatible with psi in your view, but people who actually call themselves atheists/materialists/Skeptics do not view their own worldview as being compatible with psi (false assurances that they are open to new data aside). That's it. It's a semantic issue and a branding issue.

Matt Rouge you forgot to mention that Eusapia Palladino were caught in blatant fraudulent acts by the Society for Psychical Research. Perhaps you need to do some more research. credulously accepting the acts of known tricksters undermines anything else you say.

I have covered the fraud of various psychics on my blog. To get a good understanding on why parapsychologists are not always reliable. Readers here might be interested in my "Olof Jonsson - the Swedish Swindler" piece.

http://garvarn.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/olof-jonsson-swedish-swindler.html

Garvarn

@Leo Macdonald: the point made in the linked entry is that people won jackpots several times, not that they won at all. The same numbers came up several times? Or if you mean they changed the numbers after one win, the odds of getting a winning number combination once are 13,983,816. Four times? If it is coincidence, it's still weird. (Seems kind of selfish to me to enter lotteries after you've already won. I'd let someone else have a go. But maybe that's just my upbringing.)

@Garvarn: people who comment more here will be better able to provide evidence, but she was indeed caught in fraud, which nobody here has ever denied. If I've been informed correctly, the known fraudulent phenomena she produced were of much lower quality than the *other* phenomena she produced, which are still unexplained.

Garvarn,
As soon as I see the word 'woo-woo' in an article, I stop reading - AOD

Garvarn wrote,

||Matt Rouge you forgot to mention that Eusapia Palladino were caught in blatant fraudulent acts by the Society for Psychical Research. Perhaps you need to do some more research. credulously accepting the acts of known tricksters undermines anything else you say.||

Nice! Two examples of the "fallacy of the glancing blow" (from Stephen Goldberg) in two consecutive sentences. Palladino was caught doing something, so that explains everything she ever did. I failed to point that out, so everything I'll ever say is dismissable.

How about a taste of your own medicine?

You didn't comment here under your own name, and you don't do so on your own blog. You are clearly a coward, unwilling to stand behind your own opinions and purported facts. You are also probably not even a real person, but instead a suck puppet for a Skeptic cabal that seeks to discredit psychics through any means necessary, including blatant fraud. Anything you say here and on your blog is to be dismissed.

(I actually did look at your blog, and, as in your comment, it is a caricature of Skeptic reasoning.)


Oops, I meant to say "sock puppet," but "suck puppet" fits pretty well too. :)

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